10/15/2016

How to Stock Up on Food for a Hurricane when You're Broke

It is possible to stock up on food for a hurricane when you're broke. One thing about a hurricane is that there a few days advance notice before it hits. Take advantage of that time by preparing. This list won't cover everything but it will help Hurricane Isabel came into North Carolina about a week before payday in 2003. At the time, we lived over 150 miles from the coast but officials told us to prepare anyway. Their advice helped us come through the storm despite power outages and a flooded yard.

Listening to the authorities gave a clearer idea of what was needed. I believe that everyone should comply with local and national authorities. Stock up on food for the hurricane but be ready to evacuate if you are told to do so. We put most of our food, water and a manual can opener in a plastic tub close to the door. The plan was to grab it and head out the door in case of an evacuation.

Water is an absolute necessities. Ready.gov says you need a gallon of water for each person in your household for a three day minimum. A family of four will need 12 gallons of water.

Stocking up for a hurricane when you have not money it means stretching what you have on hand. Food and water may already be in your kitchen. If you already have some bottled water on hand save it for the storm. Tap water can be put into kitchen pitchers, empty 2 liter soda bottles and clean milk jugs. Bathtubs and buckets can be filled with water for flushing or sanitation needs.

Check the pantry before you stock up on food for a hurricane. When you're broke every dollar counts. Taking inventory keeps you from buying what you already own and filling in gaps. Obvious choices to pack include ready-to-eat products like dry cereal, canned meat, crackers and chips. If you don't have enough to cover your family for a few days you may need to get creative.

My husband laughed when he saw me cooking before the hurricane but he was glad for it when the power was out. Then it was our turn to laugh at him.

We found out that flour and sugar don't taste good by themselves but make yummy shelf-stable cookies. What good is oatmeal if you can't cook it when the power is out? Use it make cookies. Two bananas make breakfast for four when they're turned into banana bread.

Granted, these are not the healthiest food choices. They each do contain sugar and carbohydrates. However, this article isn't about healthy living. It is about how to stock on food for a hurricane when you're broke. All of the items can be made a few days ahead of time and frozen until the last minute.
Some people who are broke will need to visit a food pantry. This needs to be done as soon as you realize you may need help. Services may be cut off a few days before the hurricane arrives because the volunteers left town.

Now it's time to decide what to purchase. When you stock up on food for a hurricane when you're broke it helps to at least mentally plan the meals. Instead of randomly grabbing food from the shelves think about how you will use what you buy.

Both powdered and evaporated milk can be mixed with water for cereal. A few cans may be less cumbersome and be more cost efficient. Saltine crackers have a longer shelf life than bread. They can be eaten with peanut butter, Vienna sausages, canned meat or by themselves. Apple sauce and dried fruit are less fragile than fresh and have a longer shelf life.

Paper goods and plasticware are essential when water service may be disrupted. When you are broke it is important to look for the best deals. Search online for coupons if possible and look for the best deals. Think about buying disposable cups instead of bowls. They are cheaper and less likely to be knocked over. Paper cups can be burned (which can be important when trash pickup is disrupted.) 

Save your plastic bags from the trip to the store. They'll be needed for the extra trash over the next few days. Large plastic bags can be used as tablecloths, temporarily storage, for added water protection or as makeshift rain ponchos.

Would you guess that a permanent pen can help you save money during a hurricane? Kids are notorious for leaving cups scattered. Although they aren't food, permanent markers are great to have when you are broke and stocking up for a hurricane. Writing everyone's name on their cup means that you'll use fewer of them and stretch your purchases a little further.

It's never fun to be short on cash. Hopefully neither situation will last very long and normal life will resume soon. Stay safe.

Previously published on the Yahoo Contributor Network.

10/10/2016

Inspirational stories from people who have mobility issues

Real people. Real inspiration for others who have mobility issues. This video has stories from

Vloggin Therapy - a woman living with an ankle fusion
Wheels Gone Wild - a man with MS who loves camping (and has developed techniques to make that happen).
Sue - This lady sent an email telling about her struggle with neuropathy
Me - My story about living with foot drop

These four people inspire me. I think you will be inspired also. They are proof positive that life can be enjoyed in spite of mobility issues.

9/10/2016

How to Plan a Free Community Christmas Dinner

Previously published on Yahoo!
Tight times are prompting nonprofit organizations and churches to organize free community Christmas meals. Organizing free a meal is less challenging than it first appears. Breaking large tasks into small portions will help any church or nonprofit can host a community meal. This article can help any church or organization host a free community Christmas meal. Here is a guide to get you started.

Recruit team members.
Organizing the dinner can take anywhere from a few weeks to months. From the team leader to subcommittees the success of the event depends upon a committed team. The leader of the nonprofit or pastor should be on the team. Kitchen staff, greeters, communications, set-up, breakdown, clean-up and thank you volunteers are needed

Number of guests
Your team determines the number of adults and children who will be fed. Survey your area to determine both need and resources. The survey results will inform your decision on how many people to serve at the free community Christmas dinner.

When
After the survey the team will need to decide what date and time to hold the meal. Some groups decide to host it on Christmas day while other groups will prefer a different day.

Who
The team will need to decide how members will be identified at the meal. Guests and staff will need to be readily identified at a glace. Santa hats or large stickers are often used.

Dinner details
Team members need to decide if the meal will be pot luck, catered or a combination. The group needs to determine if paper goods will be used at the free community Christmas dinner and decide who will obtain them.

Menu
The menu for the free meal often contains turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes (with or without gravy), green beans, rolls and dessert. It may also include ham, macaroni and cheese, a salad and sweet potatoes.

Many groups, but not all, like to have a traditional Christmas menu. When planning a free community Christmas dinner area traditions of the community must be considered. Food needs may vary by community.

Tickets or reservations
Free tickets can control the number of dinners offered. Tickets for the free Christmas meal can be distributed from the office of the church or nonprofit. Prevent fraudulent tickets by printing on bright card stock.

Reservations are an option to printed tickets. A church or organization phone is best for accepting reservations. Take the full name of caller, a phone number and the number of people who will be eating. Use this as a meal checklist later.

Communication
At this point the communication team members should swing into gear. Fliers about the free community meal can be posted in libraries, social service centers, laundromats and in storefront windows. Other possibilities are food pantries, hospitals, fire stations and police department chaplains.

Press releases need to be created and sent, fliers taken to schools and emails should be sent to local bloggers. Signage should be placed.

Set-up and Food preparation
The set-up and food team members should set up a day early. Place all tables, check and wash pots, decorate and evaluate kitchen supplies. Clearly mark all entrances, exits and bathrooms. Check bathrooms supplies the day before the free community Christmas dinner. Stock as necessary.

Greeters
These team members will mark off names, greet guests as they arrive and direct people to serving lines and bathrooms. They are the first faces guests will see at the free community Christmas dinner.

Food
Kitchen crew are responsible for the entire kitchen. They handle all kitchen details from food prep to conclusion.

Tear down
Volunteers who are involved in the tear down should arrive at least 30 minutes before the meal is to end. These team members will clear off and fold tables, sweep, mop, remove trash and be sure that everything is back in order. Help may be recruited from the dinner guests.

Thank you
Be sure to include donors, volunteers and representatives from other organizations or churches. Cards and letters should be sent to everyone who was involved with the free community Christmas meal. This important final step should not be overlooked.